Get Ready for Taxes: Tax reform changes likely to reduce number of taxpayers who itemize

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today advised taxpayers that the doubling of the standard deduction due to tax law changes is likely to reduce the number of taxpayers who normally itemize.

This is the sixth in a series of reminders to help taxpayers Get Ready for the upcoming tax filing season. The IRS has recently updated  its Get Ready page with steps to take now for the 2019 tax filing season.

In previous years, about one out of three taxpayers itemized. The IRS expects that number to be less for tax year 2018. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) passed in December 2017, significantly affects deductions in several ways, impacting those taxpayers who normally itemize.

The TCJA doubles the standard deduction amount for all filing statuses. The standard deduction is a dollar amount that reduces the amount of income on which a taxpayer is taxed and varies according to their filing status. Because of this, many qualifying taxpayers may find the increased standard deduction more than their total itemized deductions and opt for choosing the standard deduction rather than itemizing.

Taxpayers should check their 2017 itemized deductions to make sure they understand what the tax reform changes could mean for their tax situation in 2018. Those who still plan to itemize will complete an updated version of Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, and attach it to their tax return.

Publication 5307, Tax Reform Basics for Individuals and Families, is a key resource to understanding the impact of the tax reform law on deductions. The publication provides information about:

  • increasing the standard deduction,
  • suspending personal exemptions,
  • increasing the child tax credit,
  • adding a new credit for other dependents, and
  • limiting or discontinuing certain deductions.

The IRS reminds taxpayers that the best way to file an accurate tax return is to use tax software and e-file or seek the help of a tax professional who will prepare and e-file their tax return. The IRS offers tips for choosing a tax professional.

Taxpayers who earned less than $66,000 in 2018 may qualify for IRS Free File and can access no cost tax software online.

The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs offer those taxpayers who earned less than $55,000 in 2018 free face-to-face tax return preparation and free e-file from IRS-trained volunteers. For more information and locations, go to IRS.gov/VITA.

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